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Oct. 21, 2015, 10 a.m.
Reporting & Production
LINK: www.change.org  ➚   |   Posted by: Laura Hazard Owen   |   October 21, 2015

Vice is blacking out its homepages and social media channels worldwide for two hours on Wednesday, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. EST, in protest of the ongoing imprisonment of the Iraq-born journalist Mohammed Rasool.

Rasool, 25, was working with two U.K.-based Vice News journalists, Phil Pendlebury and Jake Hanrahan, in Turkey on August 27 when all three were detained on charges of assisting the Islamic State. Pendlebury and Hanrahan were released after 11 days, but Rasool remains in prison nearly two months later. He was a graduate student in Istanbul and has worked as a freelance journalist and fixer and interpreter for news organizations like the AP and Al Jazeera, as well as Vice.

Anybody who lands on one of Vice’s homepages during the two-hour period on Wednesday will be greeted with a blacked-out screen that links to a Change.org petition to free Rasool. The petition is addressed to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Rasool’s imprisonment is “a reminder of the essential role of media support staff, the fixers, stringers, translators, and drivers who risk their lives to bring us the news,” Joel Simon, the executive director of the Committee to Project Journalists, said in a statement.

The incident has inspired the hashtag #FreeRasool, and the United States called on the Turkish government to release him last week.

Vice has never blacked out part of its site before, but the move is reminiscent of the debates over the anti-piracy SOPA and PIPA bills. On January 18, 2012, big publishers like Wikipedia and Reddit blacked out their sites for a full 24 hours; the bills were ultimately shelved.

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